Why voting No doesn’t make you less Scottish

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Chloe Bell
Writer

After the battle of the referendum the world took to social networking sites to celebrate and commiserate the historic result.  The “Yes” badges turned to “45%” badges and more than ever people voiced their opinions about the vote. Some opinions were worth reading and some were simply just having a go at those who had exercised their democratic right to vote no.

My own Facebook was covered in statements criticising the decision to vote no, with people stating,  “We’ll never get this opportunity again” and “short sightedness are behind the majority of no votes.”  This is of course a matter of opinion and it is understandable that people were expressing their disappointment at the result.

What was less acceptable however was the theme that seemed to be re-occurring after the referendum result, which seemed to imply that if you had voted no, you couldn’t seriously refer to yourself as Scottish.  The fact that some yes voters were reduced to questioning people’s identity disgusted me.  I saw the referendum as being about personal choices and what the individual believed was best for Scotland and unfortunately, for some, the argument that the Yes campaign provided wasn’t enough to justify independence.

In a statement from Gordon Brown to the New Statesman, prior to the vote, he urged Scots to, “Tell them this is our Scotland.  Tell them that Scotland does not belong to the SNP, Scotland does not belong to the Yes campaign, Scotland does not belong to any politician – Scotland belongs to all of us.”

This summed up perfectly the idea that this is our country and we, regardless of whether we voted yes or no to independence, are all equally proud of our Scottish identity, our Parliament and all that comes with living in Scotland.  We Scots chose to keep Scotland a part of Britain, to unite as one and work together to create a better future and through that, decided not to opt out of breaking up the constitution and political links that we have with England. It was not the case that  those who voted no did so to betray Scotland or gave up on their Scottish roots.

The referendum raised many questions for people about life in Scotland after the referendum, questions about whether Scotland would be a better country going it alone in the short term and also the long term.  For many they took into consideration their children, grandchildren, as it is these generations who would be benefitting from an independent Scotland. There was a lot to weigh up and thinkingly smartly about the decision was paramount. At the end of the day both campaigns only wanted what they thought was the best for Scotland.

I am Scottish first and British second, which I am sure is the view amongst many Scottish no voters.  Everything that I have, where I was born, study, work and live is in Scotland.  We are lucky enough to have our own Scottish Government that looks after and preserves important issues surrounding the law, education and the NHS.  We are fortunate enough to have free education in Scotland, no prescription charges and many other fantastic opportunities.  I look to this and thank myself lucky that I live in such a country that can provide these opportunities.  However where the Government sits doesn’t define what being a patriotic Scot is.

Scots are not afraid of voicing their opinions and standing up for what we believe in and do not think that the No campaign voted out of selfishness or were blinded by the campaign.  We wanted to secure Scotland’s future, it’s economy and job prospects. This makes you more Scottish, by protecting what is yours.  No Scot would ever stand to be told what to do and as such, we followed our “fierce” views through and stood up for what we believed in. Those who voted no did it for Scotland, just as much as those who voted yes did.

The question of the referendum was about who you are, what you believe in and how comfortable and confident you were in the politics surrounding the referendum.  Diving into a land of unknown is exciting, but is it worth it for sake of someone telling us “This is what will happen, something different, let’s see what happens to Scotland, why not give it a try?”  I know it is cynical to say but why fix something that is not already broken?   However the flipside to this is that if we were to become independent, were England going to give up on us? England refused to put itself in a position where they could lose out due to the pressures of a Scottish economy.  When push came to shove both sides to an extent were willing to give up on one another.  Thankfully though, for Scotland, when the pressures were really high the right decision was made.

We all know how fiercely patriotic Scotland is, but the truth is the Scottish economy would fail on its own and probably faster than anyone could envisage.  Although it is not about being rich, a stable economy is vital for any country going it alone.  All the luxuries that we have in Scotland would have faded away to be a distant memory.  Things people take for granted like public toilets, parks and clean streets, these would have been only some of the things that would not be protected under an independent Scotland.  However, the incredible amount of passion from both sides of the debate is something to be proud of in itself.

Ultimately, we can compete against each other in sports and the like, but equally we can work together and better together it is. Questioning voter’s belief in Scotland should not have been criticised and the referendum debate was about a whole lot more than giving up on Scotland.  We made decisions based on what we thought was the best way in securing our future. This is our country and we believe in it regardless of whether we voted yes or no.